Study suggests potential uses for cell phones as non-invasive health and bacterial sensors.
Smartphones are everywhere, and they may be smarter than you think. Beyond the apps that help track fitness and manage health conditions, our cell phones actually reflect the personal microbial world of their owners, with potential implications for their use as bacterial and environmental sensors. New research focused on the personal microbiome – the collection of microorganisms on items regularly worn or carried by a person – demonstrates the significant microbiological connection we share with our phones. Read more…
High beach bacterial diversity may contribute to less water contamination.
Human activity influences ocean beach bacterial communities, and bacterial diversity may indicate greater ecological health and resiliency to sewage contamination, according to results published March 5, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Elizabeth Halliday from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues.
Beaches all contain bacteria, but some bacteria are usually from sewage and may contaminate the water, posing a public health risk. In this study, scientists studied bacterial community composition at two distant beaches (Avalon, California, and Provincetown, Massachusetts) during levels of normal- and high-contamination (measured using a fecal or ‘poop’ indicator) by genetically sequencing over 600,000 bacteria from 24 dry sand, intertidal sand, and overlying water sampling sites at the locations. Waters at the Avalon site frequently violate water quality standards, while waters at the Provincetown site have infrequent water quality violations.
The ability to predict exactly where and when a future outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will emerge is of obvious utility for improving public health. But despite the fact that the public databases are already brimming with tens of thousands of cataloged DNA mutations that confer such resistance, those don’t reveal how other mutations may emerge, and forecasting outbreaks remains beyond the predictive power of modern science. Read more…
Unwanted, harmful bacterial cells can be found fouling surfaces everywhere from lifesaving medical devices to toe-jamming pond scum — often in the form of “biofilms,” where they clump together into a slimy, protective surface. In recent years, many researchers have been exploring the physics behind biofilm formation and trying to figure out better ways mitigate the problem or to prevent the fouling films from forming in the first place.
Howard Stone and his colleagues at Princeton are exploring the mechanics and molecular biology of one biofilm-related phenomenon known as streamer formation. When biofilms grow and develop in the presence of fluid flow, they form three-dimensional thread-like offshoots made of polymers and cells. These “streamers” can rapidly clog small channels and quickly foul sanitary surfaces.
Pine tree sapwood filters bacteria from contaminated water.